Handbook for Using the Self-Directed Search: Integrating RIASEC and CIP Theories in Practice

Book Review by Peter A. Manzi

Reardon, R. C & Lenz, J.G. (2015). Handbook for using the Self-Directed Search: Integrating
RIASEC and CIP theories in practice. Lutz, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.


This is a very welcome and greatly expanded update of the previous practitioner's guide for using the Self-Directed Search (SDS) career assessment tool. The Handbook (Reardon & Lenz, 2015) also incorporates the cognitive information processing (CIP) theory and model, thereby increasing both the theoretical and practical breadth of the SDS. The Handbook follows the latest Form R, 5th edition of the SDS (2013), with revisions of the Form E and Career Explorer, in progress. The use of the CIP model brings cognition into the forefront of RIASEC-based choices and career decision-making, and using a CIP based measure, the Career Thoughts Inventory (CTI) with the SDS increases each measure's efficacy.

Format and Content Overview
The new Handbook is larger than its predecessor, and uses a spiral bound, full sized page layout. This improves readability and allows for an impressive number of figures (29) and tables (14). There are 14 appendixes, the first a glossary of terms. Although the Handbook is designed for practitioners, such as career counselors, rehabilitation counselors, and vocational psychologists, the reference list also contains many current research-based articles. The Handbook is a complete package that facilitates and professionalizes training and development for users of the SDS and CTI.

The Handbook begins with a clear and purposeful preface, highlighting its objectives and the many improvements made in the updated Handbook. The publication is also well-organized, with 12 chapters and a brief but poignant and compelling epilogue – a must-read for counselors.

"After completing the SDS and scoring it, Mary broke down completely in tears. Here were Ted (counselor) and Mary, spending time talking about her interests, the things she had done, could and would like to do" (p. 163).

Chapter 1 gives homage and describes Holland in a more personal way than has been customary, and provides the history of the SDS, which dates back to the late 1960's.

"As I (Robert) reflected more about the history behind many of our career guidance tools, I thought it appropriate to start with a personal sketch of John Holland" (p.1).

While many students were likely clueless about their own professional aspirations back then, in the embroiled era of free love, LSD, civil rights and the Vietnam War, Dr. Holland recognized youth's need for career direction, and put in long hours of item construction and data analysis to perfect the hexagonal RIASEC model.

Chapter 2 covers RIASEC theory, and Chapter 3 gives a more in-depth discussion of types and environments. Chapter 4 reviews the 5th edition in full, including the four components (Assessment Booklet, Occupations Finder, The Veteran's and Military Occupations Finder (VMOF), and You and Your Career), and links the SDS with other assessment tools. Chapter 5 describes the three current forms of the SDS (Form R, Form E and Career Explorer) and Chapter 6 highlights Holland-based program materials often used with the SDS.

"The VMOF is a new, unique instruments designed to complement the SDS Form R, 5th Edition" (p. 67).

Chapter 7 provides guidelines for practice using the RIASEC and CIP theories. Chapter 8, the longest chapter, goes into detail on interpreting the SDS. There are two computer-generated reports for the SDS: the Client Interpretive Report, the Professional Interpretive Report; as well as an Interactive Report, which the client customizes online. Chapter 9 uses SDS diagnostic signs and the CTI. Chapter 10 contains four gender-balanced cases studies, and Chapter 11, also lengthier than other chapters, describes program development strategies for using the SDS. This particular section could be very helpful in a career center and/or when designing career intervention programs for specific populations. Chapter 12 presents evaluation of the SDS by others and future trends. The Epilogue contains a wonderful story about a counselor, Ted, who used the SDS in a breakthrough fashion.

The appendixes are extensive, quite practical, and user-friendly for both the practitioner and his or her clients. For example, there are practitioner self-tests for the CIP model and the SDS, a career information follow-up exercise using the ONET and other sources, how to develop an individual learning plan (ILP), a case analysis worksheet, and a simple formula (Iachan) for accurately computing congruence. Some might argue that the inclusion of so many useful related activities, exercises, and worksheets belies the words “Self-Directed,” for these appendixes are clearly designed to be used by a counselor or career development practitioner along with a client. However, it is a simple equation: SDS with Counselor + Handbook = Comprehensive Career Counseling.

Case Studies for Application
I utilized the new Handbook with the SDS Form R to support three young female students, ages 14 (two) and 17 (one high school senior). I computed the Iachan index of congruence between summary code, daydreams, and college majors for the 17 year old (an excellent score). Links between ONET jobs and Holland summary codes were used with 14 year olds making plans for part-time employment while in school. The students’ parents were especially pleased by this application. Plans are also in place to use the Handbook and SDS with the women's and men's basketball teams at Monroe Community College in Rochester, New York. The women are undefeated and rated in the top three nationally, and the men are highly competitive and tournament-bound. Among their daydreams: professional athlete, coach, teacher, counselor, police officer, engineer, probation officer, sales representative, and entrepreneur.

In short, there is little else to do but to rave on about the virtues and resources offered in the Handbook. Janet Lenz and Bob Reardon are to be commended for doing such a fantastic job in producing and editing the Handbook. No career center, counselor's, or practitioner's shelf should be without one. John Holland would be proud, and rightly so.

This book is available from the publisher, Psychological Assessment Resources (PAR)


Peter ManziPeter A. Manzi, Ed.D., is a Contributing Faculty member in the School of Counseling, College of Social and Behavioral Science at Walden University. He is a National Certified Career Counselor , National Certified Counselor and Master Career Counselor. He has been a member of NCDA for over 30 years. Manzi can be contacted at peter.manzi@waldenu.edu.

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Ellen Weaver Paquette   on Saturday 04/02/2016 at 04:17 PM

Thanks, Peter! This is indeed is a "keeper"

Peter Manzi   on Sunday 04/03/2016 at 09:08 PM

Thank you Ellen. Hope all is well with you and your family and friends.

Brian Montalvo   on Monday 04/04/2016 at 09:17 AM

Great book review Peter!

This is a book I refer to over and over again. Must read for all folks using the SDS.

Jesse Akers, GCDF   on Monday 04/04/2016 at 10:41 AM

Would you say that the book is practical for those who use similar tools that incorporate Holland theory- or is it very specific to the SDS?

Fred Hairston   on Monday 04/04/2016 at 11:40 AM

Where can I find it? It wasn't listed on Amazon (or I may have missed it).

Jacqueline Contreras   on Tuesday 04/05/2016 at 09:34 AM

Thank you for your very thorough review. I am most interested in the VMOF and can't wait to receive my copy!

Jacqueline Contreras   on Tuesday 04/05/2016 at 09:35 AM

I found mine here:

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the comments shown above are those of the individual comment authors and do not reflect the views or opinions of this organization.